Thoughts About Secular New Year

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I’m not going to make a New Year’s resolution.

I’ll tell you why, but first let’s talk about diets.

The Losing Battle

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, 69.2% of U.S. adults (aged 20 or over) were overweight or obese back in 2010.

We know a lot of people are unhappy with the way they are.

A lot of people make promises to improve themselves. In fact, many of them make the same promise over and over again.

We all know someone who’s a perpetual dieter: it’s usually a she who is overweight and constantly starting a diet, joining a gym, or starting the latest fad exercise routine.

What’s the usual result?

Total failure.

Soon they’re off the diet, have stopped going to the gym, and are moaning about their weight again…

Sad fact is, you know the whole process is going to happen again a few weeks later.

Already Lost

Why this endless cycle?

I think most people have three very unrealistic views of the whole process:

1. They overestimate their willpower and ability to stick to a plan.

2. They underestimate how much work is needed.

3. They begin with unrealistic goals.

This cycle of failure is very clear at the New Year’s resolution time.

But, with the right approach, you don’t need to make ANY resolutions.

Beyond Resolutions

What does weight loss have to do with living according to Torah?

Here are Shlomo’s three rules for success:

1. Get expert advice from people who know their stuff. They may be rabbis, but sometimes other people you know will have the practical knowledge you need.

2. Make a plan that is realistic for YOU based on your research. Follow the plan, but stay flexible as you learn more.

3. Take an 80/20 view (meaning, focus on the small number of things that help the most).

It’s simple.

And actually rather easy.

And you know what: my three rules work for pretty much anything you want to do. Because it comes down to just those three things: help from someone who knows more about the topic than you, a plan, and focus.

Then just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

You know it works.

You can look around and see other people doing just that.

A Time to Reflect

So why am I writing this. Don’t I know that New Year’s Day is not a Jewish concept?!?

Of course I do.

I have no plans on celebrating as December ends and January begins.

However, it still seems to me that this is a good time to pause and reflect on the past (secular) year and learn from it.

The truth is, at Rosh Hashanah time we’re all so busy that we don’t always have enough time to stop and think.

That’s it.

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